DOHA, Qatar -- No.4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine moved into her first semifinal of the season on Thursday, easing past Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova, 6-4, 6-2, to enter the final four at the Qatar Total Open.
"I was just trying to focus on what I have to do on my game, you know, on my strength, what I had to do," Svitolina told the press, after her win. "I had to serve good, had to return, had to move quickly. So just everything had to be good. In the end, you know, I found a way to beat her. I was very happy I could do it in two sets."
World No.7 Svitolina had made it through to the Doha quarterfinals for the first time in her five appearances, and she kept her best-ever streak in Qatar rolling with an 82-minute victory over the 132nd-ranked Muchova in the first meeting between the two players.
"[Muchova is] a very good player, and I really like her game style," Svitolina stated. "She's not as a typical young player, because most of the players now that are coming up, they are smashing the ball. She has lots of variety in her game, and that's, I think, very good for tennis."
Svitolina held 11 break points in total throughout the clash, and broke the qualifier two times in each set, winning 78 percent of points on her first serve. Muchova, who had a breakthrough week to reach her first Premier-level quarterfinal, had 25 unforced errors to 19 winners, while Svitolina had a tidy 15 of each.
— WTA (@WTA) February 14, 2019
Svitolina will now face her first seeded player of the week, when she takes on either No.1 seed Simona Halep of Romania or No.9 seed Julia Goerges of Germany in the semifinals.
"I'm expecting a tough match, definitely," Svitolina admitted. "Doesn't matter who it's gonna be. I'm just going to try to bring the best tomorrow."
The first set was fairly routine through 4-3, with only one break point held by both players combined. But in that game, Svitolina drew first blood, going up a break at 5-3 and having a chance to serve out the opening set. The Czech, however, was up for the challenge, and broke directly back to pull the set on serve once more.
Svitolina got more opportunities to close out the lead in the very next game, and though Muchova saved an initial set point with an error-forcing down-the-line backhand, an error off that wing on Svitolina's second set point gave the No.4 seed the one-set advantage.
— WTA (@WTA) February 14, 2019
In the second set, the wily Muchova avoided an early stumble at 2-1, fending off a break point when a backhand off the netcord set up a subsequent backhand winner, and the Czech eventually maneuvered through a long game to hold for 2-2.
But Svitolina would not be denied in the Czech’s next service game, as her incredible footspeed often extended rallies past Muchova’s breaking point. Though Muchova did well to pull back from 0-40 to deuce, a strong return by Svitolina on her fourth break point of the game helped her attain the crucial service break and a 4-2 lead.
Svitolina steeled herself in the next game, saving one break point to retain her one-break advantage and lead 5-2. There, Muchova let a 40-0 lead slip away, and Svitolina reached match point, where one of her backhands dribbled over the net for a slippery winner, ending the tilt.